Let’s face it : when you’re a developer, you usually don’t like technical support. End users don’t see your products the way you do, they don’t understand how much it costs in terms of efforts and time to build these things, and if they contact you because of bugs, they generally don’t do it the way you want it. Personally, I try to answer to each and every mail that comes my way, but then again, I don’t get that many emails…
That’s why, when you’re a developer yourself, you don’t hope too much when you send an email to a generic firstname.lastname@example.org. You half expect to get a “thanks, but no thanks” kind of automated answer, especially if the company has a somewhat high profile and a few dozens of thousands of customers.
And then there is an exception. I emailed BareBones about one of their product (not to report a bug, just to congratulate them and to ask a question), and I not only got an answer, but a good one too.
They answered precisely to my question, weighting the pros and the cons, not only giving me the official party line, but trying to make me understand why it works the way it works. In short, they were acting like humans.
That’s something that we should all (re)learn to do. We spend our days talking to machines, and we generally are proud of our accomplishments. Receiving a mail, kind or harsh, is just a message from the people we work for. Yes, they can be infuriating. Yes, they sometimes just “don’t get it”. But ultimately, they are the ones who use what we do, and even if we don’t agree with them on specific topics, it doesn’t mean they have no right to attempt a communication. It’s the thing that differentiate humans from machines : empathy.
The guys at BareBones Software got it all right, products and support. Too bad everyone’s not like them.